4 minute read
Drink: Holy Spirits
An interview with Bryan Muirhead
Story by Lifestyle Staff | Photos by Topograph
This month, we got to know owner Bryan Muirhead from local bartending and cocktail class company, Holy Spirits. His own entrepreneurial spirit and pursuit of his passions help him deliver a new kind of drinking experience—with a shot of bar smarts.
Q: Please share when you started Holy Spirits.
A: After working as a pastor, I began taking a variety of liquor courses at Elemental Mixology in Portland, Oregon. That’s when I came up with the idea of Holy Spirits, officially launching in Fall of 2019. The certifications that sommeliers earn for wine is similar to what is offered for spirits. It’s extensive training to gain a strong understanding around spirits—how they are made, produced, bottled, and sold. Once things started opening up after Covid, I began hosting in private homes.
Q: You were a pastor, you now run Holy Spirits—tell us about the connection.
A: I obtained my degree in biblical studies, then began working as a pastor at a local church. It was during that time that I did my first class with a small church group. The initial idea was to feature three cocktails that were named after Bible stories. Since I learned Hebrew and Greek during college, I was able to share the stories’ language and the cocktails’ significance. I came up with the idea for a drink celebrating Jesus himself turning water into wine. One of my favorite cocktails with wine as a core part of the drink is the New York Sour, which has a red wine float on top. I realized if I found a great tasting white whiskey, or a low-proof moonshine, I could make a drink that looked like it went from water to wine, hence the name “The First Miracle.” Another drink was an apple martini named “Don’t Touch that Fruit.” And then there was “Lazarus Rose,” which ended up becoming the signature drink at The Darling Hotel's restaurant, The Elderwood—I worked as their bar director during opening. Now, their entire bar program is run by Jacob Mejia, who, in my opinion, is the best bartender we have in the Central Valley.
Q: Can you tell us what a typical cocktail class consists of?
A: Classes are all different. Sometimes they are bachelorette parties or close friends getting together, and I can change the class style to adapt to the audience. It’s different than just having a bartender—it’s an interactive and engaging experience. They get to experiment and taste the spirits. I come alongside to give you a chance to “go out” but in your own space. Opening up your home to your friends and family is a unique, intimate, and hands-on experience.
Q: How has your business changed since first launching?
A: It was initially geared towards fun Bible topics, but eventually I realized people were just interested in having a good time and learning about spirits. It’s rare but I still have people request the Bible-themed classes, which I will do. When I was a pastor, I was leading a group called Theology on Tap that started out with 5-6 people; it kept growing to 28 people and I recognized that there was something there. I’ve realized that I don’t have to tell Bible stories for great conversations to happen at a cocktail class. Good conversations just happen amongst close friends. It’s so fun to be part of memories being made. Word of mouth and social media has also helped my business grow. I started getting requests to host classes in small businesses and it’s been amazing how many have opened their doors for me.
Q: Anything on the horizon for you and Holy Spirits or anything else you’d like to share?
A: I'm currently the Beverage Director for Quesadilla Gorilla, and with our recent franchising opportunities, there is plenty to be done to make sure that future QG bar programs are successful. When it comes to Holy Spirits, I'm more dedicated than ever to introducing more and more people to the rich history associated with cocktail making. Will Holy Spirits ever have a physical location? That's the dream.